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From $0 to $10 Million — Here's How to Build a Winning Prop Trading Team Do you need to know what skill set is required to be a successful leader in one of the most rapidly changing niches in finance? This article sums up the recommendations of a "prop trading" pioneer.

By Blake Olson

Key Takeaways

  • This article will discuss the leadership challenges faced in the "prop" or proprietary trading world.
  • Leaders can build resilient, adaptable teams capable of sustained growth and even comradery.
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Some issues in prop trading are the same as those faced in any niche, but some are unique to this constantly evolving segment. When I look at the structure, staff and technology from 12 months ago, my company is almost unrecognizable.

Without the right mindset, keeping a handle on growth can be a bit like juggling chainsaws.

The pivotal role of technology

Technology is the lifeblood of the trading industry. By definition, our business only exists online. The rapid evolution of tools and platforms can dramatically alter the landscape overnight. We've seen this firsthand.

Leaders in this sector must exhibit an exceptional degree of technological savvy and an "anticipatory" vision to foresee and adapt to these changes. The adoption of new technologies forces a culture of continuous learning and innovation within the team. There is no such thing as the status quo!

Team members who are slow to pursue ongoing education, experiment with new tools and dedicate time to strategic thinking don't last long. The desire to adapt is required for growth and competitive advantage.

Related: Earn Through a Recession by Learning Stock Trading Strategies

Harnessing diversity

The global nature of trading today means teams contain a variety of cultural and professional backgrounds. Our current team is spread over five different countries. This diversity, while a tremendous asset, also presents unique leadership challenges.

Effective leaders must promote a cohesive team environment where every member feels valued and understood regardless of background and location. Solutions to lessen the "artificial isolation" team members from other parts of the world can experience are essential. This involves using technology to facilitate communication across different time zones, fostering an inclusive culture and seeing it as a strength rather than an obstacle.

One example is having occasional video conferences that are not business-specific. They allow time for team members to speak freely about their lives, making a connection that business-only video calls don't allow for. You'd be amazed at the personal details that have come out of these calls. Everyone enjoys these moments. (And yes, everyone's camera must be on!)

Invariably, we see innovation and closer collaboration as a welcome result.

Balancing the dynamics of contractors and full-time employees

Prop trading is no different than every other company out there. Our team faces the "contractors and full-time employees" issue. We all know companies that failed to handle this properly and paid dearly.

This mix can enrich the team with flexibility and specialized skills. Still, it also requires careful management to ensure everyone is on the same page and working steadily toward the company's goals.

During a growth phase, when certain roles expand while others vanish, it's vital to constantly ask the question, "Is this best handled internally, or will we outgrow this need in 6 months?"

Leaders must integrate these contributors, ensure clear communication and set firm expectations. Verbalizing clear expectations saves a lot of headaches. This issue mirrors the geographic challenge just mentioned. Promoting an environment where contracts feel "vested" in the company vision.

There's another concept in play here. The principle of "fire fast, hire slow". I don't mean this in a purely ruthless sense. But having the readiness to make tough decisions is a spark for growth.

Ensure that every member's presence is not just warranted but beneficial for the collective goal. Again, this philosophy is not rooted in a lack of compassion but in a commitment to excellence and the team's long-term success.

Upholding integrity as a core values

The temptation for quick gains in the prop industry can lead to ethical quandaries with clients and business entities alike. Integrity is non-negotiable.

Bad actors exist in every niche. Unfortunately, prop trading is not immune from this. This makes it even more important for leaders to adhere to the highest ethical standards themselves and to instill these values in their teams.

This involves creating a culture where ethical behavior is recognized and rewarded and where team members feel comfortable voicing concerns. Customer service sees different behaviors from clients than the tech team on the back end.

As a rule, whenever cash changes hands or profits are on the line, someone will create a way to skirt the rules. By prioritizing integrity, leaders build a team that not only achieves success but also does so respectfully and legally. And in line with the company's long-term vision.

Adapting team composition for future challenges

The skill sets and mindsets that contributed to initial successes may not indicate future success. Leaders must be vigilant in assessing the team's capabilities and ready to make adjustments as needed.

This might involve seeking out new talents with specific expertise or redefining roles within the team to better align with strategic goals. The same talent pool that gets a company $0 to $1 million in annual revenue is unlikely to be the one in place from $10 million to $50 million. Spotting "talent bottlenecks" is an acquired skill. But it is very necessary.

Related: Learn Candlestick Trading: This E-learning Bundle Is $25 This Week Only

The art of leading a trading team to success

Leading any team to success is an art that requires a blend of strategic foresight, technological proficiency and evolving interpersonal skills.

Short version: If I had to pick a trait that pinpoints someone likely to stick with you through growth and challenge, I'd likely go with a desire for continuous learning.

By embracing these principles, leaders can build resilient, adaptable teams capable of sustained growth and even friendship. The journey is demanding, but I've found the rewards of cultivating a high-performing, ethically grounded team immeasurable.

Blake Olson

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Prop Firm Expert

With a wealth of experience in Prop Trading, I proudly serve as a senior Prop Firm analyst and CEO. By sharing my insights, I aspire to guide individuals towards achieving success in the dynamic world of trading through prop firms!

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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